UCLA today unveiled plans for a "grand challenge" to turn Los Angeles into a global model for urban sustainability in the face of climate change. The project is the first of six in the UCLA Grand Challenge initiative that will unite the university's resources to tackle some of society's most pressing issues.
In a kickoff event at UCLA's Royce Hall, university chancellor Gene Block described the ambitious project, "Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles," whose goal is for the Los Angeles region to confront climate change by shifting exclusively to renewable energy by 2050, while adapting to global warming by shifting completely to local water, instead of importing water from elsewhere, protecting biodiversity and enhancing quality of life. UCLA seeks to raise $150 million for the grand challenge to fund the research necessary to deliver a detailed action plan in 2019, including new technology and policy solutions. UCLA researchers will work with city, county, state and federal agencies, as well as community groups in developing the plan.
"Count on me to do everything I can to support you," L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti told Block and the dozens of UCLA researchers and donors at the event. "Let's get it done!"
Los Angeles city council members Zev Yaroslavsky and Paul Koretz joined philanthropist Tony Pritzker in pledging their support for the grand challenge, along with Cristin Dorgelo, assistant director of grand challenges in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
UCLA will provide regional decision-makers with a detailed plan for how to achieve full sustainability in greater Los Angeles by mid century. The roadmap will be backed by cutting-edge research, new technologies and breakthroughs, and recommendations on laws, policies and outreach -- many of which will be tested first on UCLA's campus.
The effort will involve six dozen faculty and staff from about 30 centers and nearly two dozen departments, including environmental science, law, economics, urban planning, public policy, engineering, public health, conservation biology, transportation and communication studies. "Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles" will engage experts from all perspectives of the issues -- from the root causes to the various solutions -- all with their sights set on a common goal.
By 2050, it is estimated that 70 percent of the world's population will live in cities and face the same urban environmental concerns currently present in the Los Angeles region: limited resources, smog, water waste, traffic congestion, increased heat and rising sea levels. UCLA aims to transform Los Angeles into a global model for melding urban infrastructure with natural ecosystems.